Artist Pamela Council on Why Nails Are the Ultimate ‘Bad Bitch Armor’

Manicures: occasional treat or lifestyle?

A lifestyle, baby. I get my nails done usually every two and a half to three weeks. But if I’m deep in a project, I might forget. Also I’m a sculptor and work with my hands a lot, so sometimes I go for a longer stretch without one because I need my hands to be in stuff. 

Natural nails or extensions?

Mostly natural.

Go-to shape?

My favorite shape for me to wear is an almond shape, because I’m a practical gal. My favorite shape in the world is a super-extra-long talon because they just turn your hand into a whole different thing. And I love watching that. 

Gel or regular?

Gel. Regular polish lasts for, like, five hours on me.

Defining color? 

I get colors to match whatever project I’m working on at the time. For example, this whole summer into the fall, when I was working on A Fountain for Survivors, it was all pink, pink, and purple. And when I’m working on other projects, like if I have an opening and it’s a lot of red, white, and blue art, then I’m going to get an Americana-themed manicure. I like to theme my nails like that.

However, I just got this black French manicure because I have galas coming up and I don’t know what I’m going to be wearing. So I was like, it has to be more neutral. 

Matching mani-pedis: a must or rule meant to be broken?

I had to really think deeply about this question. No, I think we don’t have to do that. I’m for liberation of the toes! Sometimes your foot just wants something different. That said, I’m not really into elaborate nail art on the foot. I don’t want 3-D gel sculptures on my pedicure. It’s a lot of upkeep. 

But no, it doesn’t have to match, but it should complement. That’s my color-theory sensibility kicking in.

Clean and simple, minimal design, or next-level art?

It depends on where I am with my work. I prefer next level, but since I’m a sculptor, I can’t always go next level because my hands are going to be in clay the next day. So I take it there whenever possible, but lots of times it’s more like painted nail art. And sometimes I’ll get custom press-ons made for a special occasion.

Favorite salon or nail artist you’re loyal to?

This year my go-to girl is Dohee Bahn at Speakeasy Nails in New York City. I’m really grateful to Dohee, because she’s been helping me grow my nails out and that’s been a lot of fun.

Favorite products for prepping your hands?

It’s not really a product, but my favorite part of a manicure is the cuticle cleanup. When my cuticles are clean, I feel like everything is right in the word. I’m good to go.

Do you feel more like yourself with a new mani or like you’ve taken on an alter ego?

My favorite things about nails, which I’m exploring in Midnight Moment, is, like, once you have your nails done, you start to talk differently, you start to gesture differently. And I just love how the nails themselves can become a sort of extension of your body and your personality. 

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